"My atom could also be called a space-electron atom. It’s an energy collecting and condensation mechanism, in which case energy is absorbed respectively from the earth’s magnetic field and likewise the entire solar system. Let me remind you of the central, magnetic strait in the solar ring-system.
The energy as such already exists in space, as well as in our atmosphere. Our earth teems with such energy and the sun provides a great supply of it. Billions of space-electrons, pressed into the system over thousands of years by the sun, generate the energy that I then retrieve using the suitable acceptors, antennas, sensibility gages etc., and, with the help of precisely constructed compressors, press into the stationary (or mobile) system. [..]
One day, the operation of all land, air, sea and space-vehicles will rely on this atom. [..]
Galactic island-clouds – 420-million-kilometers-long and 150-million-kilometers in diameter. Billions in the darkness of space! I call them mother-nutrient clouds because they contain all the nutrition needed by the solar system – all of the known chemical compounds, existing in a dust-like state. Shining suns and systems grow wild on it like meadow flowers! Three, five, nine, eleven solar systems on every soil-nutrient cloud!
In the early stages, humans will travel from one solar system to another. These space-island clouds – according to my own scientific hypothesis, and discovered by no other scientist on earth – will draw closer and move away again over a period of thousands and thousands of years. They roam through eternal space without borders, drift up and down, and to the right and left – like the clouds above our earth. When such space-island clouds meet and align, we’ll make transfers with our vehicles from one cloud to the next, and continuously drive through eternal space." [KH Janke]1
(Trajekt is possibly a made-up word derived from the German word for trajectory, but I'll leave it as 'ferry' in other titles below)
The image captions in this blog post are all from an online translator so they are iffy. [Edit: now cleaned up a bit - thanks Stephan!] You can see the original German titles by mousing over the image.
By way of example, the metadata provided with each image (which I won't bother reproducing for all of them) looks like this (translated):
Series: ferries, airplanes, helicopters, engines, space
Admin: Wermsdorf, Rosengarten e.V., inv TRA047
Material and Technique: colored
Iconography keyword: ferry
Have you heard of Janke before? No? Well then stop reading here and go and have a look through his portfolio of nearly 3,500 drawings/documents that Deutsche Fotothek uploaded in the last couple of months. The sampling of images above hardly does the fellow's amazing legacy justice, and it's arguably better to get a feel for his output without being prejudiced by the background detail. Or so I think. Click on 'alle in Galerie anzeigen' or one of the category links below it. They bring up thumbnail pages and there's a zoom link below each image. Have a decent browse around and then come back; we'll wait.
Karl Hans Janke (1909-1988) graduated from high school and attended a technical college for a couple of years and studied dentistry although he didn't complete the course. He was drafted into the German army in 1940 where he was hospitalised on a number of occasions because of behavioural problems and was eventually discharged from the service on medical grounds in 1943.
By the late 1940s Janke was found to be malnourished and exhibiting increasingly eccentric behaviour and, after a short prison sentence and hospital assessment, he was committed to a psychiatric institution in Wermsdorf, Saxony in 1950 with a diagnosis of chronic paranoid schizophrenia. He remained at this facility for the rest of his life.
The institutional staff either encouraged or tolerated the passion Janke showed for sketching technical designs: he had his own "office" in the hospital in which he produced four thousand drawings and constructed hundreds of models of his "inventions". Apparently the boxes containing his works were stowed away at the hospital and forgotten after his death and weren't rediscovered until 2000 when the imaginative artistry and sheer enormity of his output was finally recognised.
Janke was, in his own mind at least, a serious engineer, intent on helping mankind by devising all manner of rocket ship (especially), space vehicle, ferry, bike, propulsion mechanism and associated transport system. His drawings range from simple prototype sketches to incredibly detailed schematics reminiscent of technical manual designs. He was an energetic correspondent with the patent office and various technological and aerospace type agencies and departments, endeavouring - without much luck - to share his inventions with his scientific "peers". Fearing theft of his intellectual property however, Janke was also assiduous in dating and signing his works with an accompanying statement declaring himself as the author and originator of each idea depicted.
It's an astonishing collection and, on casual perusal, might simply be regarded as an interesting and artistic obsession (like blogging?), albeit at the extreme end of the continuum. But the delusional nature of Janke's illness becomes readily apparent from closer inspection (and reading around). His elaborate and grandiose ideas about harnessing stellar atomic energy meld with naive conceptual visions for its applications and connections to nature and other lifeforms. He skips from a vague - to put it mildly - comprehension of the atom to designing end-point technical gizmos and transporters that will rely on his illusory power source. There is also a whole series of watercolour sketches outlining the origin of the world (including as a hatching egg), for instance, that hints at the breadth of eccentricity within Janke's deranged belief system.
I'm sure some people will consider Janke's thoughts and designs about futuristic transport to alien planets and odd energy sources to be visionary genius or prescient, with parallels in the modern world say, but they really are the product of deluded fantasies, no doubt helped along by photographs and schematics he saw in newspapers over decades that documented the evolution of rockets and satellites. This was a fellow who built a totally psychotic world in his own head - and he had no insight that it was from an illness - with only tenuous connections to reality; whose extraordinary artistic output wasn't so much a symptom as it was a documentary record of the nature and extent of his distorted thought patterns. That's not to say that his portfolio isn't brilliant in an 'outsider art' way. It is, of course. But any deeper meanings relate to aesthetic qualities or psychiatric disturbance and not to technological virtuosity.
Janke's works have been exhibited in both space art and psychiatric art exhibitions. The accompanying catalogues (linked below) have articles translated into English in which the authors speculate - perhaps wildly at times - about the probable background and origins of Janke's inspiration. One idea of particular note observes that Janke often backdated his designs and research to 1928 (he signs them with 1928-1956, for example) and the inference goes that 1928 was the year Fritz Lang released his sci-fi film, 'Woman in the Moon'*, (or at least, the year when the book it was based on was released; the film: 1929) which just might have been the trigger for Janke's life-long obsession with outer space creativity. Maybe.
"Janke went to great pains to emphasize that all his technological inventions and ideas were for the benefit of humanity and aimed towards propagating peace. In his final testament, he wrote: 'I ask you to keep the images and albums with the numerous drawings and models that I created for you humans.' " 2
- 'Der "Künstler-Erfinder" von Hubertusburg' - the Deutsche Fototek collection.
- Karl Hans Janke (Rosengarten e.V.).
- 'The Silence of Flying' exhibition catalogue [2.5Mb PDF] from Die Stille des Fliegens.
- 1'Karl Hans Janke vs. Wernher von Braun: Die Ideen eines Weltraumphantasten' catalogue [5.4Mb PDF] from the Peenemünde Historical Technical Information Center.
- Variously via: Briefe an Konrad, Metafilter & Things Magazine.
- 2Quoted from 'The Imaginary Engineer' by Kris Lee, IN: Cabinet Magazine (dead tree version only): Spring 2008, Issue 29 (Thanks Matt!!)